Finmeccanica's Selex ES has marked a successful week for its unmanned air systems business, achieving Italian air force certification for micro and mini systems developed by its technical centre at Ronchi dei Legionari, near Trieste.
Selex chief executive Fabrizio Giulianini is especially pleased to have passed this particular milestone for the ducted-fan hovering Asio and fixed-wing Crex systems, as the Italian version of the NATO standard was written after the aircraft were in advanced stages of development.
Speaking exclusively to Flightglobal at the DSEI show in London on 11 September, Giulianini said he was delighted to have been faced with the challenge of adjusting the programmes to meet that NATO standard.
The door is now open for military sales in Italy and abroad and, he stresses, both systems are in a strong position to bid for sales as soon as regulators in North America and Europe establish flight standards to open civil airspace to unmanned aircraft.
"We look forward to the rules of flying in unsegregated airspace," says Giulianini.
The next challenge, he adds, will be to push battery performance to extend the backpackable systems' endurance in battlefield use.
Asio offers endurance of more than 30min in flight and hovering mode, and of over 4h in silent (perching) mode, as well as a datalink range of up to 12km (6.5nm) in line-of-sight and an ability to provide stabilised, high-resolution imagery.
Crex enables "over the hill" and "around the corner" intelligence missions to gather real-time information "in a stealthy way", tracking stationary and moving targets.